Michael Kiwanuka (Support: Lou Asril)

Michael Kiwanuka played a show at the MetaStadt Open Air, preceded by Lou Asril. (There was third act before Asril as well, but I didn’t see it.)
Seen on: 11.7.2022

I got concert tickets for Michael Kiwanuka’s show a while ago (sometime in 2020, I think). Then the concert was pushed back, and it was announced that Kiwanuka would open for Lauryn Hill. Then Lauryn Hill canceled, and it was announced that Lou Asril would open for Kiwanuka. Since I had tickets for another Asril show that I couldn’t attend after it, too, was moved, this seemed like a particular stroke of luck for me. And I can say that it really was worth the wait for both of them.

Michael Kiwanuka looking straight at the camera with a small smile.
Michael Kiwanuka

Lou Asril is a young Austrian musician with a big voice and songs that are somewhere between meditative and danceable. I don’t know if I would have thought to pair him with Kiwanuka, but the two styles, I felt, complimented each other nicely. Asril certainly knows how to choose a stage outfit, making a bold statement with neon yellow and thigh-high boots, both tapping into a queer aesthetic I find reflected in his songs.

He seemed to be having a lot of fun with the concert, though I thought that he maybe could have done a bit more sing-along stuff. Despite the obvious vocal range and sometimes outright difficulty of his songs, there are parts that would be well-suited to singing along with the crowd. Other than that though, it was a really nice concert that gave us his new single (not yet released) and underscores just how talented he is.

With Michael Kiwanuka, I was a little worried about how well his music would work live, I have to admit. I mean, the songs are rather calm which could grow a little boring live. Or at least, they appear to be when you listen to the studio versions. Live, I was surprised with how hard some of the songs become, almost danceable. Whether studio or live version, one thing is for sure: his songs are powerful, as is his show.

It was a surprsingly long performance, especially considering that it was somewhere between a festival and a concert with two opening acts. I certainly didn’t mind that. The show is obviously well-planned with not only a setlist that gives you a change of pace whenever you need it, but also threads returning song elements throughout. The lighting is also wonderfully matched to the music and has some very nice effects in a rather simple way.

Kiwanuka himself doesn’t really interact with the audience, which is a pity on the one hand. On the other, it puts all the more focus on the music and lyrics that are political and definitely have things to say. Sung with his slightly nasal, intense voice his lyrics make themselves felt, and the amazing band around him, including two absolutely fantastic back-up singers make things even more perfect.

It is the kind of concert that makes you listen to his music with a fresh ear. And while his last album may still not be my favorite of his, that doesn’t mean that the newer songs aren’t good. After the concert you know just how good they really are.

Summarizing: awesomeness.

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